FOLLOWING a spectacular variety of violent airborne incidents fuelled by boozy holidaymakers, the British government is preparing to crack down on alcohol sales at airports across the country.
Airport regulations have flown somewhat under the radar of increasing consumption restrictions over the past few decades, with many bars and lounges being exempt from standard licensing regimes and able to flog alcohol 24 hours a day.
That may be about to change under the direction of new aviation minister Lord Tariq Ahmad who has announced his intention to clamp down on pre-flight drinking by ushering in revamped protocols to protect amiable holidaymakers and families from rogue trouble-makers.
“I think that it’s important for the safety and security of all passengers that we ensure that regime is actually fit for purpose,” Lord Ahmad said.
“It’s important that passengers who board planes are also responsible and have a responsibility to other passengers, and that certainly should be the factor which we bear in mind. If you are a young family travelling on a plane you want to go from point A to B – you don’t want to be disrupted.”
Passenger screening before boarding flights could be enhanced, following schemes in Glasgow and Manchester which have seen duty-free alcohol sold in tightly sealed bags to prevent thirsty revellers wantonly imbibing hard liquor while waiting to board.
While bars, lounges and duty-free stores frequently warn passengers that they risk their seat if heavily intoxicated, the cautions are usually passive and signposted rather than explicit, and staff have been criticised for failing to live up to the same preventive strategies as adopted in normal pubs and clubs.
Lord Ahmad’s intervention comes in the height of a summer season featuring dire headlines on violent alcohol-related incidents which have seen planes grounded across the continent and British nationals holidaying in foreign jails rather than on sunny beaches.
Last year the UK Civil Aviation Authority suggested that incidents of on-board ‘disruptive behaviour’ had tripled over the past three years and specifically identified alcohol consumption as a threat to passenger safety.